Day By Day

Monday, October 29, 2012

Through the Heart of Europe: Part 16, Veere

Our next stop was at the lovely little town of Veere. Five centuries ago it was a major port dominating the wool trade between Scotland and Holland, but today it is a quiet community of only 1,500 people.

This charming girl welcomed us as we entered the town.

The main street lined with traditional houses.

Many of the houses boasted enclosed gardens.

The school playground.

Lots of little tourist shops.


The church spire.

A shopgirl.

A reminder of the old days when ships from Veere sailed the globe

The town hall.

A sixteenth century merchants house.

Remnant of the old defenses.

Roofs and flowers.

A quiet street near the dyke.

Shhhh. Don't wake the sheep.

As we sailed away the skies were filled with migrating waterfowl.

On our way to Rotterdam, our next stop.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Death of a True Believer

I suppose I should say something about the recent death of prominent Marxist historian, Eric Hobsbawm, but I won't. My mother taught me that if I couldn't say anything good about someone, stay silent. He was a true believer -- a Stalinist to the end. I'll let Michael Burleigh speak for me here.

Through the Heart of Europe -- Part 15, Ghent

Leaving the boat we boarded a bus at Terneuzen that after a short journey deposited us near the center of Ghent, one of the oldest settlements in Western Europe. It has been inhabited since the Neolithic period and has at various times been dominated by Celts, Romans, Franks, Vikings, and the Dutch. It has also been an important industrial center since the High Middle Ages.

A small shrine at the point where we started our tour of the city.

The "Friday Market", one of the city's most important commercial centers. The statue is of Jacob van Artevelde, a prominent weaver who ruled the city through the early stages of the Hundred Years War between France and England. His policy was to preserve the neutrality and trading rights of the city, but ultimately this failed and he was forced to side with England. This led to him being excommunicated by the Pope after which he was killed by an angry pro-French mob.

Medieval guild houses off Friday Square.

Ghent was long dominated by artisan guilds and this tradition of labor politics has continued throughout its history. These buildings, which have long dominated the area around the square were the headquarters of the labor party and of the socialists. They prominently display Marxist slogans.

Buildings on the Graslei, a street running along  one of the city's canals.

An early-modern building that, from the decorations on its walls, was apparently a brothel.

The medieval castle, the Gravensteen, where the Counts of Flanders held court.

Mmmmm, beer. Lots of beer.


The medieval meat market, headquarters of the butchers guild.

The canal runs past St. Bavo Cathedral. The large object lying in the middle of the canal near the bridge is a broken statue of Neptune, originally located at the nearby fish market. How it got into the canal I don't know.

An elderly man, condemned to be starved to death for heresy, was granted one last wish -- that his daughter, who had recently given birth to his grandson, be allowed to see the child every day until he died. Every day the dutiful daughter brought the child to the man's cell. Months passed and he continued to live, long past the point when he should have died. Confounded religious authorities decided that it was a sign from God that he should be allowed to live, so he was released. The statue shows what really happened.

The city hall.

St. Nicholas Church in the city center.

After several hours strolling through Ghent and admiring its wonders we again embarked on our bus, returned to the boat, and set course for the Netherlands.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

When I was in graduate school the unholy trinity of Race, Class, and Gender was rapidly displacing other, more traditional, concerns as subjects for historical inquiry. Now the process is complete. Witness the agenda for the upcoming American Historical Association meeting where nothing but the unholy three is up for consideration. Read about it here.

Monday, October 01, 2012

I'm Baaaaack!

Well, I'm finally back in the country and able to start blogging again. While I get myself organized here are some very neat photos of contemporary China from the Boston Globe.